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Texas Workplace Injury Claims under the Jones Act

When a Texas employee is injured on the job, the injured employee can pursue temporary or permanent benefits under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act. Workers’ compensation benefits can provide an injured employee benefits to cover their medical expenses as well as a portion of their income. Notably, workers’ compensation claimants do not need to establish that their employer was negligent to obtain benefits. However, workers’ compensation claimants are not eligible for compensation based on emotional pain and suffering.

Another option an injured employee has is to file a Texas personal injury lawsuit. Unlike workers’ compensation claims, successful plaintiffs in Texas personal injury lawsuits can obtain compensation for emotional damages. However, because a workers’ compensation claim is generally an injured employee’s only remedy against their employer, a personal injury case will typically only be available if a third party’s negligence caused the accident.

That being said, lawmakers have determined that workers in specific industries should be able to pursue personal injury claims against their employers. For example, the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) allows railroad workers to pursue claims for compensation against their employers. Similarly, the Jones Act permits seamen to file a personal injury case against their employer. However, to recover under FELA or the Jones Act, a worker must show that the employer was negligent. A recent federal appellate case discusses an employee’s case brought under the Jones Act.

The Facts

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was working aboard a boat that was docked in Amelia, Louisiana. As the plaintiff was unloading cargo, he began to feel lightheaded and went to his cabin. Later, another ship worker heard a loud banging noise coming from the plaintiff’s cabin. The plaintiff was found unresponsive in his cabin, and the ship’s captain called 911.

Evidently, a private ambulance company responded to the call. The emergency medical technicians performed a CT scan, determining that the plaintiff suffered from a brain mass. The plaintiff was transported to the hospital, where it was discovered that he had actually had a stroke. As a result of the stroke, the plaintiff was permanently disabled.

The plaintiff filed a claim against his employer. Specifically, the plaintiff argued that his employer was negligent for calling 911 and also vicariously liable for the negligence of the ambulance company.

The Court’s Analysis

The court began by noting that the general rule is that a shipowner has a duty to provide “prompt and adequate” medical care to ship workers. The court also noted that the extent of the duty owed to a ship worker depends on the circumstances, including the nature of the injury and the availability of medical care. The court then stated that a shipowner might be liable for an employee’s injuries if the employer takes an employee to a doctor that the employer knows was not qualified to help the employee.

Here, however, the court pointed out that the plaintiff was suffering an unknown injury. Thus, the captain’s decision to call 911 was “reasonably calculated” to get the plaintiff the medical help he needed. The court explained that this was not a situation where the employer knew the plaintiff needed additional or specific medical treatment but refused to obtain such treatment.

The court also held that the employer could not be held vicariously liable for the alleged negligence of the ambulance company. The court explained that the ambulance company was merely responding to an emergency call, and not acting as an agent of the employer.

Have You Been Injured While at Work?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Texas workplace accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Texas personal injury lawsuit or workers’ compensation claim. At the law firm of Carabin Shaw, we have decades of experience handling both personal injury and workers’ compensation claims on behalf of injured employees. To learn more, call 800-862-1260 to schedule a free consultation.

Related Posts:

The Legal Doctrine of Negligent Entrustment in Texas Car Accident Cases, Texas Injury Lawyers Blog, December 11, 2018

Proving Intoxication in Texas Personal Injury Cases, Texas Injury Lawyers Blog, December 11, 2018

Court Finds State Liable for Injuries Caused by Drop-off on Road’s Edge, Texas Injury Lawyers Blog, October 19, 2018